Blair 'planning to become a Catholic after he quits No 10' [Excerpts]
Tony Blair is preparing to convert to Roman Catholicism after he steps down as Prime Minister, according to a leading cleric.
His long- awaited formal switch to the faith of his wife and family will come shortly after he surrenders office, it is claimed.
Mr Blair's decision to formalise his Catholic beliefs was revealed by Father Michael Seed, who is regarded as unofficial chaplain to Westminster and is a regular visitor to Number Ten.
Last year, Cherie Blair praised Father Seed, a leading cleric at Westminster Cathedral, for his "ability to reach out to all kinds of people, whether it is the homeless on the streets to the people in the highest places in the land, including even in Downing Street".
Asked to elaborate yesterday, Father Seed, usually known for his openness with the media, said: "I'm afraid I can't say anything."
Mr Blair has long been expected to complete his conversion after leaving Downing Street.
Conversion: It has long been speculated that Tony Blair would convert to Catholicism
He has regularly attended Catholic services in recent years, both with his family and alone.
Mr Blair has also visited Pope Benedict XVI and his predecessor John Paul II in Rome.
While opposition leader in the mid-1990s Mr Blair often took communion with his wife and children at a Catholic church in Islington in London, which is seen as a signal he is totally loyal to the faith.
However, he stopped doing so in public on the instructions of the then leader of Catholics in England and Wales, the late Cardinal Hume.
Mr Blair has not been seen in a church of his professed Anglican faith except on official occasions.
He is widely considered to have remained an Anglican because of the potential complexities of conversion while in office.
("This is London," "Evening Standard," 5/17/07, www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23396660)